Ryan Ball recently walked into the Stephen M. Ross School of Business Winter Garden atrium expecting to meet with five students for lunch. But to his surprise, his students had something else planned.

Ryan Ball

They had just sat down at a table when the Golden Apple committee arrived — with maize and blue balloons and flowers in tow. Surrounded by his colleagues, students and wife, Ball was named the 2016 Golden Apple Award honoree. An assistant professor of accounting, Ball is the Ross School’s first Golden Apple recipient.

“I was lured there under false pretenses,” Ball laughed, referring to the Dean’s Office program that arranges for five MBA students to ask a faculty member to lunch. “I’ve done dozens of these things in the past, so I was totally shocked by the announcement. I’m still in shock, to be honest.”

The Golden Apple Award is presented by Students Honoring Outstanding University Teaching and is the only student-selected teaching award on campus. It honors undergraduate and graduate faculty members who continuously seek to engage students in the classroom.

Students can nominate a faculty member of their choice. One of Ball’s previous students organized the vote, and will introduce his Golden Apple “Last Lecture.”

“It felt good to have the recognition of the students, and I’m glad they see the appeal in what I do. That’s the best part of it,” Ball said.

The concept of the award was inspired by Rabbi Eliezer ben Hurkanos — a teacher of Jewish tradition who taught to “get your life in order one day before you die.” The award seeks to honor teachers who consistently teach as if each lecture were their last, and strive to disseminate knowledge while inspiring and engaging students in its pursuit.

In the spirit of living each day is if it were the last, recipients are asked to give a lecture — one that they would give as if it were to be the last of their careers.

Ball will speak on “Accounting for Ambiguity: Lessons from Denmark, MMA, and Improv.”

“It’s a smathering of different topics with the focus on lessons I’ve learned from dealing with uncertainty,” he says. “How to grapple with uncertainty, which is something I’ve grappled with all my life. How do you move on in life when it’s an uncertain future? That’s the angle of it.”

Ball’s “Last Lecture” will take place at 6 p.m. April 13 in Rackham Auditorium. 

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